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FIVE DAYS IN LONDON WITH TEENAGE BOYS - HELP!!!

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boyzmom11 Mar 14, 2011 05:59 PM

Will be taking our first trip to London in June accompanied by our teenage sons. One an adventurous eater, one has a very American palate - burgers, fries, pizza. We will accommodate both needs at different times. This is a big vacation for us, so price is not our main concern - quality food is.
We are comfortable at "dives" as well as 5-star locations. The food and service are the most important issues.
We are staying at the Renaissance St. Pancras (keeping our fingers crossed that this is not too far out of the mainstream...). thoughts welcomed.
I have read most of the threads and now have a list so long that it is quite cumbersome.
I think that where we end up will probably be dictated by where our sightseeing finds us on any particular day. I am still working on that schedule.
We will do one gastropub - Harwood Arms, Bull & Last or Hope and Anchor are on the list.
We will have tea at Fortnum and Mason and Brown's. Although I hear that the Mandeville has a "man's tea" - does anyone know anything about that?
We want to do fish and chips at least twice - I have Rock and Sole Plaice and Masters Superfish as the designated spots.
We will eat at the Food Hall in Harrods and visit the Borough Market.
I do need help with Chinese. there are many dissenting opinions. So far, I am choosing between Haozhan and Min Jiang. Any other suggestions?
Adventurous son wants curry. This is one area I have not researched.
I have read that the restaurant in the new hotel Pancras will be run by a popular chef. I am not familiar with him. Any info.?
We are big breakfast people. St. John Bread and Wine sounds like a good stop. I am sure that the finer hotels (Mandarin, Claridge's, etc.) have a great breakfast - any one better than others?
All breakfast ideas are appreciated.
Lastly, ice cream. What is your favorite place?
thank you so much for sorting through all this. Answers to any of these questions will be most helpful!

-----
St. John
26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY, GB

Harwood Arms
27 Walham Grove, London SW6 1QR, United Kingdom

  1. r
    Roland Parker Mar 14, 2011 10:06 PM

    Consider going to the Hawksmoor. It's an excellent steakhouse specialising in high quality British meats (modeled partly after the old fashioned 19th century "chophouses".

    Harrods' food hall is good if expensive and touristy. Also consider Selfridges' Food Hall.

    The East End, particularly in and around Brick Lane, has a number of first rate Indian and Pakistani restaurants. Pakistani food will be more geared towards meat (kebabs and grills) with curries on the side, whilst Indian will be focused on the curries and meats as the side. I'll leave it to others to recommend certain places although I've always enjoyed Lahore Kebab house which isn't far from Brick Lane.

    Pearl Liang (right behind Paddington Station) is an excellent Chinese restaurant with some of the best Chinese food in London. Their roast pork and duck are among the best I've ever sampled. If you enjoy dim sum, Royal China on Queensway does fabulous dim sum.

    -----
    Royal China
    13 Queensway, Paddington, Greater London W2 4, GB

    Pearl Liang
    8 Sheldon Close, Bromley, Greater London SE20 8, GB

    Hawksmoor
    157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ, GB

    5 Replies
    1. re: Roland Parker
      abby d Mar 15, 2011 12:53 PM

      if you go to hawksmoor the seven dials, covent garden branch has a more buzzy atmosphere than the shoreditch one.

      i think dishoom (also covent garden) might be a central london spot where you could all eat indian food.

      1. re: abby d
        r
        r.vacapinta Mar 15, 2011 01:16 PM

        if you're in Covent Garden for Hawksmoor, it should be noted that Scoop gelato is also there - a great ice cream choice. Rock and Sole place is not the absolute best Fish & Chips experience in but it is still quite good. Great Queen street is a gastro-pub mentioned on this board often - despite not being a pub.

        I only mention all these places because they are central and despite good intentions, you may not make it up to the Bull & Last just for a meal so it might be good to keep all these in your back-pocket.

        1. re: r.vacapinta
          b
          boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 02:05 PM

          Thank you. I will look up Scoop Gelato and Great Queen as well. I appreciate all of the suggestions.

        2. re: abby d
          b
          boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 02:06 PM

          I will try to look up the menu at dishoom. Thank you so much for the suggestion.

        3. re: Roland Parker
          b
          boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 02:11 PM

          We will be trying Hawksmoor. Also, thank you so much for for suggesting the Selfridges Food Hall. It will give me an excuse to drag these men into another store! Not having daughters makes shopping very unpopular during our vacations! Pearl Liang sound great - we have two duck lovers in the group so that will work well. Thank you for your time!

          -----
          Pearl Liang
          8 Sheldon Close, Bromley, Greater London SE20 8, GB

          Hawksmoor
          157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ, GB

        4. zuriga1 Mar 15, 2011 12:09 AM

          I've had the regular tea at the Mandeville and thought it was a very nice experience with tasty offerings. I'm sure the Man's Tea is full of goodies, too. It's much lower key than Brown's (which I haven't been to in years) and less 'fussy.' At the Mandeville, they let my niece take away all the food we didn't finish.

          Your hotel should be amazing from what I've seen! Marcus Wareing is the chef you mentioned, and he is highly thought of in London and is a Very familiar name.

          No ambiance at all at Master's Superfish, but the food is great, both the fish *and* the chips. Not all of these shops can boast that both are terrific, but this place can.

          Personally, I would not go to Brick Lane for a curry.

          1 Reply
          1. re: zuriga1
            b
            boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 02:04 PM

            Thank you. We will definitely try the tea at the Mandeville!

          2. n
            NYLONDave Mar 15, 2011 02:20 AM

            For a great breakfast a short bus/cab or long walk away I would recommed Caravan on Exmouth market. Its a great fusion of British, Antipodean, and Mediterranean influences in a bright modern room. I just had breakfast here again the other day , I usually go for dinner or lunch, and the baked egg w/ chorizo, corn bread french toast, and black pudding were all memorable and made w/ top notch ingredients. They roast their own coffee and you can get 3rd wave filter style, flat whites, or traditional expressos etc... For the non adventurous eater they do eggs any style . So should suit everyone.

            Exmouth market in general would be a great place to explore for you and your family due to its proximity to your hotel. For lunch the market is typcially full of vendors - you can grab a grilled sausage or Ghanaian stew and sit in Spa fields park if its nice out . At night you have Moro, De La Cruz, Caravan and others to choose from.

            For ice cream I stick to Gelato Mio in Holland Park and Dri Dri on Portobello rd. Your teens may also enjoy the nitro ice cream parlor in Camden Chin Chin Labs.

            Dave

            3 Replies
            1. re: NYLONDave
              b
              boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 02:01 PM

              Caravan sounds great. I must admit to ignorance once again though - what is Antipodean?
              Is Exmouth Market food only or is there other merchandise to peruse? Thank you so much for your help.

              1. re: boyzmom11
                t
                Theresa Mar 16, 2011 02:04 AM

                Antipodean in Britain means people from Australia and New Zealand ... basically, the word antipode describes the part of the world directly opposite where you are - ie. if you drew a straight line through the centre of the earth - so in Britain that means Australasia. The things we learn on this site!

                1. re: boyzmom11
                  n
                  NYLONDave Mar 16, 2011 05:20 AM

                  I wouldnt say Exmouth Market is a shopping destination in its own right, though there are a few shops sprinkled among the restaurants and the food stalls which are there at lunch time only. if its a nice day and you have some time I would walk around and soak it up , otherwise you can just hit Caravan and head out as its pretty close to your hotel.

                  Dave

              2. p
                pj26 Mar 15, 2011 03:12 AM

                I'd give Brick Lane a miss for currys (but great for a walk around for the markets and other stalls) and head to either Needoo or Tayaabs for great grills.They are both in Whitechapel, so a short walk from Brick Lane.

                St John Bread and Wine is great for breakfast (and lunch and dinner!) - it's made up of sharing plates mainly so there could be something there for everyone. Also as NYLONDave mentioned, Caravan is lovely for breakfast, or head down to Smithfields market for Smiths - also fantastic breakfasts. I'd give the hotels a miss, they would be hugely overpriced. My favourite place for breakfast is actually Bistroteque in the East End, but this might be a bit of a trek for you - it's lovely on a Sunday with a resident piano player.

                -----
                St John
                26 St John St, Islington EC1M 4AY, United Kingdom

                3 Replies
                1. re: pj26
                  CTownFeedR Mar 15, 2011 12:00 PM

                  Second the Tayyabs and Needoo recommendation! Great experience.

                  For fish and chips, skip Rock and Sole and head to Masters. Much better. If you need a second F&C choices, Golden Hind.

                  For me, the interesting Chinese in London now is delivered as part of the surge in Hunan and Sichuan choices. Golden Day gets my vote for the former style. Mmm, spicy, salty, smoky. It just hits all the right notes.

                  I would also suggest considering Lebanese or Iranian. Ishbilia (Leabnese) or Mohsen (Iranian) are not horrifically far from where you are staying.

                  1. re: CTownFeedR
                    b
                    boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 01:57 PM

                    Thank you. WIth your recommendation and a look at the Board, I have now switched our two F&C choices to Masters and Golden Hind. I will also look into your Chinese selection. Sounds wonderful. Thank you!

                  2. re: pj26
                    b
                    boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 01:59 PM

                    Thank you for the Breakfast recommendations. I have six breakfasts to plan, so we will definitely use your suggestions. Appreciate your time!

                  3. greedygirl Mar 15, 2011 07:05 AM

                    Lucky you to be staying where you are - it looks AMAZING and is a perfectly fine location to be in as the transport links are very good. If you like walking, it's also really not that far to walk into the West End from there.

                    You're actually only a short tube journey away from the Bull & Last, which is one of my favourite places in London. Don't miss it - and fwiw limster rates the ice cream there very highly.

                    1. n
                      Nancy S. Mar 15, 2011 10:01 AM

                      I would go to both The Bull & Last and The Harwood Arms, if I were you. My teenage daughter loves both. Our favorite ice cream is also Gelato Mio, and I believe there are a few locations. I also love St. John Bread & Wine for breakfast. My teenage daughter also loves J. Sheekey, as do I.

                      -----
                      St. John
                      26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY, GB

                      Harwood Arms
                      27 Walham Grove, London SW6 1QR, United Kingdom

                      1. b
                        boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 11:09 AM

                        Thank you to everyone for your very informative replies. Hawksmoor sound like a great choice, particularly for my non-adventurous boy. The Chinese recommendations will work well. We will definitely go to St. John Bread. Based on what I've read we will also give the Mandeville a try for tea.
                        Thank you for all of the great breakfast thoughts. However, no one mentioned the Wolesley. I saw that in several threads. Any problems with this place?
                        The ice cream choices sound wonderful. Any thoughts on - is it -Artist du chocolate?
                        Also very happy to hear that the hotel looks good!
                        Finally, without wearing out my welcome :)... is it possible to find good curry at one of the food halls - Harrods or Selfridges - or perhaps at one of the markets? That way we can sample while the younger guy find something "safer" to eat.
                        Again, thank to all for your help. I will definitely report upon our return. THANK YOU!

                        -----
                        Hawksmoor
                        157 Commercial St, Poplar, Greater London E1 6, GB

                        St. John
                        26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY, GB

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: boyzmom11
                          t
                          Theresa Mar 15, 2011 12:15 PM

                          If I were you - but I am a bit obsessed - I would forget trying to get a curry at the same time and from the same place as food for the fussy one, and plan to have a picnic in your room one night. This might sound crazy, but I would go to Tayyabs, Needo or the Lahore Kebab House (all pretty near to each other) and get a takeaway, and then jump into a taxi to the hotel picking up a pizza on the way, or from one of the places in Kings Cross! It's just over 3 miles, and if you don't go at peak time, then the journey back shouldn't take more than 10/15 minutes.

                          Either do that, or go for a meal in one of the above places while the fussy one watches you eat, and get him something before or afterwards. It is worth having a decent Indian/Pakistani meal rather than something which doesn't hit the spot, but it is a bit off the tourist trail.

                          If you are not as obsessed as I am, then others may know of restaurants which are nearer to the hotel or places you are visiting, and are better than the average British "curry house".

                          1. re: Theresa
                            g
                            gembellina Mar 15, 2011 01:46 PM

                            Staying in St Pancras you're not too far from Drummond Street for curry though there's some disagreement on these boards about where's good. I was taken to one place by my Sri Lankan boss but didn't love it, and can't remember the name which isn't very helpful. It's mostly veggie, I believe.

                            You're also pretty near the Indian YMCA which does a great lunch though it's very rough and ready: cafeteria style self-service, and jugs of tap water on the table. We usually go on a Friday, but last week went on a Monday and the food was a million times better and lots more variety. We usually spend about £14 for two meat curries, two veg curries, pilau rice, chapattis, poppadums, onion bhajis, chutney and lassi.

                            You're also on the right tube to take you down to Tooting which has Sri Lankan restaurants, but it's about 40 mins from Kings Cross and the only other option for the less adventurous boy would be fried chicken (which might be a good thing!) I'm a big fan of Apollo Banana Leaf there.

                            I think many of the places in Central London are more high-end, which might be a little unfair to the one who doesn't want curry!

                            1. re: Theresa
                              b
                              boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 01:53 PM

                              If you consider wanting the very best food available "obsessed", well then, we are obsessed as well. We may need to feed him first and then go to one of your recommendations. Appreciate your help!

                              1. re: boyzmom11
                                t
                                Theresa Mar 15, 2011 02:16 PM

                                The advantage with the three I've mentioned is that they are very reasonably priced, so will bring your price average down!

                              2. re: Theresa
                                r
                                relizabeth Mar 16, 2011 06:45 AM

                                I am pretty sure you can get a nice roast chicken and chips/rice/naan from Needo. We took a pair of meek German teenagers there, and they were surprisingly happy.

                                1. re: relizabeth
                                  b
                                  boyzmom11 Mar 16, 2011 02:09 PM

                                  Thank you relizabeth! My elder son just asked me to find out where to find the best nann in London. He has never had it, but desperately wants to try it. If you have any other suggestions for naan, please let us knoe. Thank you again!

                                  1. re: boyzmom11
                                    t
                                    tavegyl Mar 17, 2011 01:41 AM

                                    Mohsen has the best naan I've had in London. It's an Iranian place in Kensington, but it's the only place where the naan has compared to anything I find at home in Pakistan.

                                    Otherwise Needo has naan as well, if you're going there anyway, just not as good.

                                    If you're looking for South Asian food near your hotel, Drummond Street's Raavi Kebab House is pretty good Pakistani food, and is open all day and till late at night. Their nihari (slow cooked beef) is very good, as are their seekh kebabs. Almost everything else I've tried is a distant second to Tayyab's and Needo's, but these two things are very good. Seekh kebabs in particular, I thought Needo's didn't do well.

                                    Don't confuse it with the far more flash Ravi Shankar vegetarian restaurant next door.

                                    Also, if you're there, you can try Ambala Sweets across the road, which is a good sweet shop with good gulab jamun, barfi, and nimko (savoury snacks), as well as better vegetable samosas than you'll find in restaurants, especially if they're freshly made.

                              3. re: boyzmom11
                                n
                                Nancy S. Mar 15, 2011 03:01 PM

                                The Wolesley is a stunning place, and quite a scene at times, but the food isn't great.

                                1. re: boyzmom11
                                  n
                                  NYLONDave Mar 16, 2011 05:32 AM

                                  If you make it over to Notting Hill you could try gelato and ice creams from a number of top spots all with in walking distance - maybe try a scoop or 2 at each

                                  Artisan du Chocolat & Melt - both are mainly chocolate shops that also do ice cream. I have only tried the ice cream at Melt and it was good from what I remember - i typically stick to the salted caramels there - though not sure they sell ice cream all year. I believe some one may have posted about the ice cream at Artisan. Otherwise, you have Dri Dri and Gelato Mio (Pembridge rd) all in walking distance and you can do some serious shopping/people watching on Westbourne Grove beween Colville & Ledbury and/or join the masses for Portobello Market on Friday or Sat.

                                2. j
                                  jeanmarieok Mar 15, 2011 11:21 AM

                                  I have no additional suggestions beyond what was given already, except to say that London with hungry boys is VERY expensive. We ate at many of the places mentioned, and they were almost all delicious, but the boys would be hungry two hours later. I was sorry I only packed one jar of peanut butter, because once they finished all the PB ( they weremaking PB&Js in the hotel for snacks), they were on the prowl for food. My husband thinks it was at least another $50 a day for between meals snacks, if not more. Just chips, water bottles, packaged junk, etc,,,

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: jeanmarieok
                                    b
                                    boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 01:51 PM

                                    Your post made me chuckle. I have not been to Europe since my boys were very small (we left them home) and we saw a family from the US with two teenage boys. They ate and ate. The mother confided to me in the ladies room that the expense of feeding these boys was eating up most of their budget. My husband and I laughed and said, one day it'll be us. Well here we are. Obviously you understand!

                                    1. re: boyzmom11
                                      r
                                      rjlebed Mar 15, 2011 01:58 PM

                                      One non-food suggestion. If you want to design a tour specifically around your boys's interests then consider hiring a blue badge guide. We did so and, while expensive, have never regretted it. She was able to really focus the day on the interests of our son and it was wonderful. A friend of mine just did this with her kids who were very interested in the Beatles. Their guide designed the entire day around seeing sights related to the band. Check them out on the web. Enjoy!! And, J. Sheekeys was lovely for fish!

                                      1. re: rjlebed
                                        b
                                        boyzmom11 Mar 15, 2011 05:35 PM

                                        Just checked out the Blue Badge website and am very interested. Thank you for a great idea!

                                        1. re: rjlebed
                                          b
                                          boyzmom11 Jun 13, 2012 08:04 AM

                                          Was just looking up some info. for a friend who is traveling to London and remember your post. I must thank you so much for suggesting the blue badge guide. She made our trip!!!!! I would never have known about them without you. So, while Chowhound is strictly about food, little tidbits like that can make such a difference. Thank you so much!

                                      2. re: jeanmarieok
                                        g
                                        gembellina Mar 15, 2011 01:59 PM

                                        $50?? Those are hungry boys!

                                        Just pop into a Sainsbury's or Tesco at the start of your trip and stock up on snacks. There are usually smaller branches dotted around the city centre - called "metro" or "local". In fact I think there's a tesco metro on caledonian rd right by st pancras.

                                        1. re: jeanmarieok
                                          greedygirl Mar 15, 2011 02:39 PM

                                          You can actually buy peanut butter in the UK you know!

                                        2. h
                                          helen b Mar 16, 2011 03:58 AM

                                          Think there are lots of good suggestions here, so you won't go far wrong. My 17 year old veers between adventurous and 'can we just go to Nandos?' For the latter, it's a decent pitstop - flame grilled piri piri chicken cooked to order, with seating, and far prefereable to the other fast food chains in terms of both healthiness and parents-can-sit-in-an-OK-place-with-a-glass-of wine. You'll find them all round town. Wagamama is another OK bet (Asian-ish canteens) and Busaba Eatthai for, well, Thai canteen-style.

                                          On the adventurous side he's enjoyed Blummenthal's Dinner (though reservations are few and far) and all things snail-ly and weird, plus bone marrow at Chabrot Bistrot des Amis in Knightsbridge and St John, and then highly spiced Szechuan food at Ba Shan, Bar Shu etc (can find loads of reccs here including some up near your hotel). I think you can sometimes exploit the (cue sexism comment) male urge to eat stuff perceived to be weird/gross in order to show off subsequently!

                                          Then, maybe more for the parents, but sure they'll like it too...there's a lovely homespun Tapas restaurant 10 mins walk from your hotel that's been running for decades. Nothing West End fancy, and certainly not when it comes to pricing, but they do some lovely dishes, the staff are great, feels like you're eating at the (culinarilly skilled) home of a cousin!

                                          http://www.elparadorlondon.com/ElPara...

                                          -----
                                          St John
                                          26 St John St, Islington EC1M 4AY, United Kingdom

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: helen b
                                            b
                                            boyzmom11 Mar 16, 2011 02:13 PM

                                            You've given me a lot of homework to do. I already looked up el parador (thanks for the link) and it looks really good. Thank you for all of the suggestions.

                                          2. Robin Joy Mar 17, 2011 08:08 AM

                                            I don't think anyone has mentioned Camden Market. Not sure about weekdays, but my teenage sons adore a couple of hours there at weekends during the day. All the food you could ever eat, from unchallenging to fairly lively, along with hundreds of stalls selling the superior junk everyone loves. Easy by tube.

                                            I like The Stables bit:

                                            http://www.stablesmarket.com/shop.php

                                            1. c
                                              cathodetube Apr 8, 2011 12:57 PM

                                              Lower Marsh street market in Waterloo has Buen Provecho Mexican food (on Facebook) which is ace. There is also a guy selling crepes plus a few other places. You could perhaps consider going to Brixton Village one day. Open late on Thurs/Friday and open Saturday and Sunday. Lots of places to hang out. See separate thread. Columbian, Thai, Filipino, West Indian, Antipodean and more.

                                              Just north of Oxford Street, south of Regent's Park, and west of Bloomsbury (British Museum) is the Scandinavian Kitchen in Great Titchfield Street, It might be worth a visit for lunch. They have lots of salads, open faced sandwiches, and inexpensive Swedish hotdogs, plus lots of delicious cakes. There is also a grocery section filled with Swedish food. The staff is amazingly friendly.

                                              1. s
                                                sunclytie Apr 9, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                There's a very good (and cheap!) vegetarian dosa restaurant on Drummond Street called Diawana. Dosas are kind of like Indian burritos - it's kind of a crepe wrapped around yummy filling. I like the paneer dosas, which are curried mashed potatoes and chunks of cheese stuffed inside this crepe-like thing. Your adventurous son will like it, there's not much like it in the US, and it is cheap, although the service is pretty surly. And how can your non-adventurous son not like mashed potatoes and cheese?

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